Chain Of Command Police Department : Career Guide

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Explore The Chain Of Command In The Police Department With Duties And Responsibilities

Every organization has certain power structure through which order goes up or down. If you want to become police officer than before starting your criminal justice degree, you need to know how the department works and what is their chain of command. In most US cities,  the chain of command police is same and promotions happen within department.
The chain of command within police department may be

Police officer

After achieving your criminal justice degree,  you will start your career as Leo police officer.
A police officer wear no rank but can have several pay grades within department. After successful completion of probationary period, a police officer will get advancement in career. Senior police officers may wear two chevrons.

Duties of police officer includes

  1. Proactively Patrolling assigned areas whether on foot, car, bicycle or mounted unit or motorcycle.
  2. Protection of life and property and ensuring law enforcement.
  3. Responding to calls for police service.
  4. Conducting criminal and traffic investigations.
  5. Conducting interviews
  6. Preparation of reports and field notes of investigations and patrol activities.
  7. Becoming a part of specialized unit (as in SWAT).
  8. To arrest and processes criminals.
  9. May testify in court.
  10. To work during emergency situations like weather conditions.
  11. Comprehending legal documents which may include citations, affidavits, warrants and other documents.
  12. Becoming an instructor at police academy,  training detectives and taking an active role in Community Oriented Policing on campus.
  13. Self initiated traffic and criminal investigations and taking on legislative duties.
  14. A police officer may also act as news media coordinator according to situation.
Police officer career has better chances of promotions.

Police Detective Careers

Policemen after promotion , can become detectives. Detective rank is technically a designation but they don not actually out rank police officers.instead they are the people who correspond to higher supervisory and pay grades. Detectives don’t wear uniform. They work in plain clothes and usually are in charge of many cases.
As detectives are senior officers so they may have certain authority over police officers in some situations.
A police detective is assigned for many criminal investigations.

Responsibilities of detectives include

  1. Giving response to the scenes of crimes
  2. To investigate crimes.
  3. Collection of evidences from crime scenes and interviewing witnesses and suspects
  4. To prepare report about investigation and to apprehend suspects.
  5. Arresting suspects after obtaining warrants.
  6. To prepare the case for a successful prosecution.
  7. And testifying in court
  8. Some other duties may include handling narcotics investigations, surveillance, homicide, theft, robbery and other illegal activities.

Police Sergeant Career

Police sergeant has three chevrons on uniform. They supervise entire watch shift in departments and also supervise areas of individual detective squad in larger departments. Some police departments use ranks like staff sergeant and sergeant first class in addition to basic sergeant rank.

Following duties can be assigned to police sergeants

  1. Patrolling assigned areas.
  2. To handle day to day operations and support lieutenant.
  3. Handle volunteers and public interactions.
  4. To handle investigation and make reports about crimes and investigation.
  5. Respond to crime scenes if required or requested by police officers.
  6. Handling radio calls.
  7. To provide backup and handle emergency and public safety situations.
  8. Training and supervising probationary officers.
  9. To report reviews and do staff evaluations.

Police Lieutenant 

A police lieutenant supervises three or more sergeants. They can also supervise entire watch shift of police station or detective squad or entire barracks. Police lieutenant has single gold or silver bar.

Duties of police lieutenant includes

  1. Managing a specific division of police department.
  2. Supervising sergeants,  police officers and detectives.
  3. Making recommendations for personal actions, motivating employees, evaluating performance and handling training and promotions.
  4. Responding to crime scenes that require action.
  5. Reviewing police reports and log books to ensure that records are maintained safely.
  6. Supervising investigation and providing assistance to subordinates.
  7. Keeping the captain informed.
  8. Coordinating and responding to public and media representatives.
  9. Providing assistance in hiring,  promotions and departmental operating procedures.
  10. May serve as campus security authority as outlined by the clery act.



Police Captain

Police captain supervises police station or a division of detectives. They have two gold or silver bars and are normal commanders of precincts.

Their duties and responsibilities include

  1. Supervising functions of patrol officers or detectives.
  2. Handling the administrative and supportive functions of non sworn personnel.
  3. Maintaining liaison with government, and other organizations to promote neighborhood safety.
  4. They also handle specialized divisions such as narcotics, homicide, juvenile services,  air support and transit.


Police Commanders

Police commanders wear gold or silver eagle similar to colonel but sometimes have insignia of a single star analogous to brigadier general.
They have two ranks higher than captain.

Their duties include:

  1. Commanding officers working in more specialized divisions.
  2. Providing assistance in development and implementation of policies.
  3. Handling daily operations ensuring compliance with laws,  policies and regulations.
  4. Supervising staff for work allocation, training and promotions.
  5. Providing assistance to subordinates in performing duties and providing them guidance.
  6. Helping in annual budget planning process.
  7. Maintaining confidentiality in record keeping procedures
  8. Attending different meetings and workshops.
  9. Representing department in meetings at community and business level.

Police Deputy Chief 

Police deputy chief is one the top subordinate and is second highest rank in police department. In some places they are warden of county jail.
The deputy chief acts as chief of staff to the chief of police and keep him informed about ongoing activities.
Police chief can be promoted from the rank of caption or commander.

Their duties may include :

  1. Planning,  assigning and supervising activities of police department.
  2. They are responsible for development and implementation of staffing plans.
  3. Implementation of change in organization to get effective results.
  4. Maintaining necessary records.
  5. Supervision of subordinates and sensitive criminal cases.
  6. Taking full responsibility for the activities of police department in absence of chief of police.
  7. Ensuring application of laws and ordinances.

Chief Of Police

Chief of police also known as police commissioner is appointed by mayor or city council. Chief is top uniformed officer and there may be several non police officer deputy and assistant commissioners who may out rank chief of police department.
There can be chief of operations who is second in command to chief.
Chief is usually elected official of county and head the sheriff’s department. They are selected with in ranks of deputy police chief and should have 12 years of law enforcement experience.

Duties of chief of police includes

  1. Managing department including hiring, firings and training.
  2. Responsible for establishment and maintenance of a healthy working environment for all personnel.
  3. Developing policies and procedures within guidelines.
  4. Leading day to day operations.
  5. Maintaining peace and order in city.
  6. Ensuring law enforcement.
  7. Working closely with city manager for budget planning.
  8. Development of programs to prevent crimes in city.
  9. Attending the council meeting once a month.

The Chain Of Command In The Police Department With Duties And Responsibilities

  • Police Officer


  • Police Detective


  • Police Sergeant


  • Police Lieutenant 


  • Police Captain


  • Police Commanders


  • Police Deputy Chief 


  • Chief Of Police



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